Female trainers

Employment law and attitudes to women generally have improved throughout the world, however some prejudices remain and hiring female trainers, can be an area where such prejudice still occur.

Some animal care companies are actually reluctant to hire female trainers, believing them to be less reliable or less likely to stay, if they become pregnant. Perhaps they also consider the effect of relationships, within the training team. All of these reasons are not acceptable, neither is the thought that females could be better than male trainers. All of the reasons listed count as being forms of prejudice and should not be allowed to exist within any workplace.

Some jobs can however favour what are considered to be natural male attributes and females also, have many commonly found attributes which seem to come naturally to them. It is perhaps no coincidence that many jobs that provide care, such as nurses, nurseries, and elderly home care jobs, have a majority of female staff. Females can be seen as natural care givers, again not to prejudice against men, but it could be accepted that by nature many women understand caregiving. If we also accept that training an animal requires exceptional care, could it not be argued then that many females could perhaps start with an advantage.

I have experienced facilities that did not wish to hire females and in one case, actually fired a female trainer once she informed them she was pregnant; she was even told not to bother complaining because no-one would listen. Obviously, these attitudes are unacceptable, which rightly should be addressed through employment right law, however we all know that taking action against an employer, is costly and can damage your future employment prospects.

My advice is to be aware and prepare, when seeking a job, you could ask how many female trainers they employ, or their policy regarding maternity leave. Remember also, if a facility cares little for their employees, how should you expect they care for their animals. Do not get disheartened, rather use your natural ability and promote your caregiving tendencies to show an employer the benefits of hiring you. Animals that are cared for correctly stay healthier, live longer and are able to perform better.

Do not underestimate the power of promoting the choice of choosing a female trainer.


SOS Seals – Human Rescue

For years humans have trained animals for many reasons, entertainment, research, education, sport you name it. For centuries people and animals have shared a deep bond, such connections have created moving stories that very often come to light.

The fact that dog is man’s best friend is undeniable, when you consider the many incredible stories of dogs saving people’s lives. There are some heart-warming tales of dogs rescuing humans and other acts of canine bravery. Some of those incredible stories are,a dog saves boy from cougar, dog rescues infant from house fire, dog saves woman from choking, dog rescues family from carbon monoxide poisoning, dog conditioned to call 911 for collapsed owner, dog saves baby from rattlesnake, blind dog rescues drowning girl, all these stories show a deep bond between dogs and people.

Another big example of where training and this bond is being utilised is sniffer dogs, keeping us in dangerous or law breaking situations. These dogs also are used for saving human life in disasters, such as earthquakes and floods, as well as other specialist work with paramedics and police investigations, where saving time is paramount.

As with dogs, there are different stories of many other animals saving human life, including marine mammals, especially dolphins with their high level of intelligence. Having a natural friendly nature and instinct, humans have trained marine mammals to the highest level, by creating a ground-breaking program with a sophisticated and exciting project to rescue human life. Faster and more accurate than any other rescue team, marine mammals are reaching places and depths that we humans cannot reach.  One example of the incredible work is the amazing work that has been developed with seals in military missions.

This project was initially created in a working environment to retrieve items or tools lost out of human reach in the sea, but now is being upgraded to rescue human life.

A training program with Sea Lions rescuing humans in dangerous situations in deep or dark waters has been developed. There appears no faster or better way to rescue human life, in these certain situations.

Open Water Human Rescue Program


The first instinct of any trainer should be to protect and care for their animal

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We all know the world is not perfect and trainers do not ultimately determine the fate of their animal, however they should strive to protect and care, making their animals life easier, both physically and mentally.

In a recent forum, trainers were discussing moves to remove the use of toys, such as rings and balls. What may not be realised is that these toys play an important role in secondary reinforcement, their removal will be detrimental to an animals wellbeing.

The benefit of using these toys is enrichment.

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We marine mammal trainers would like to know that our animals have a stimulating life, with opportunities to engage in natural behaviours. Encouraging natural behaviours, increases activity and allows animals some control over their environment. Enrichment helps satisfy both the physical and psychological needs of animals and allows them to make choices. Thus, animal enrichment creates a win-win-win situation for both animals and trainers.

We trainers provide for an animals needs, so we must assist and encourage the use of toys for instance, as methods to aid physical and mental stimulation, which in turn encourage natural behaviours. Chasing after a toy, or jumping over a tube, or challenging each other to do so, all involve natural instincts and behaviours.

Enriching an animal’s environment comes in many forms, including altering the physical environment, modifying animal care and creating stimulation. You will see play with plastic tubes and play with a ball used in most animal facilities, not just with marine mammals. These are examples of adding “furniture” for an animal to play with that enriches their environment. 

I have read criticism of videos showing dolphins playing with a ball, from people who have not idea about these animals and they make a big issue about it, without any knowledge whatsoever to support their comment. We trainers know that living with the animals every day gives us knowledge and experience, to see the real benefit of utilising such toys.

We have rescued animals near to dying and during their recuperation a toy is part of the process,  providing big improvements in their health and well-being. I have heard comments such as, how can a ball be more benefit for these animals than playing with other animals in the wild? Well, these animals include ones saved from the wild, is it better to save them with a ball or let them die? If an animal can play all day with a ball and not get tired, how much pleasure, stimulation and enrichment is then being achieved for that animal?

Gray whale population drops by quarter off U.S. West Coast

Researchers say the population of gray whales off the West Coast of the United States has fallen by nearly one-quarter since 2016, resembling a similar die-off two decades ago

SEATTLE (AP) — Researchers say the population of gray whales off the West Coast of the United States has fallen by nearly one-quarter since 2016, resembling a similar die-off two decades ago.

In this May 24, 2019, file photo, teachers and students from Northwest Montessori School in Seattle examine the carcass of a gray whale after it washed up on the coast of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, just north of Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park. Researchers say the population of gray whales off the West Coast of the United States has fallen by nearly one-quarter since 2016, resembling a similar die-off two decades ago. In a paper released Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, NOAA Fisheries reported that surveys counted about 6,000 fewer migrating whales last winter, 21,000 as compared to 27,000 in 2016.
Gene Johnson / AP

In a paper released Tuesday, NOAA Fisheries reported that surveys counted about 6,000 fewer migrating whales last winter, 21,000 as compared with 27,000 in 2016.

The agency declared an “unusual mortality event” in 2019 as dozens of gray whales washed up on Pacific Ocean beaches. Scientists aren’t sure what has been causing the die-off. But they believe that it is within the range of previous population fluctuations and that the number of whales may have exceeded what the environment can support.

After an estimated die-off of 23 percent in 1999-2000, the population rebounded to even greater numbers, NOAA said. The agency said it appears the big population swings don’t reflect long-term threats to the whales’ survival.

The eastern north Pacific gray whale has recovered from being hunted to near extinction in the middle of the 20th century. It was removed from the Endangered Species List in 1994.

The whales migrate 10,000 miles (16,093 km) from feeding grounds in the Arctic to birth their calves along Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Teams of researchers counted the whales as they passed Granite Canyon, California, near Carmel, on their way south from December 2019 to February 2020.

creds to: https://www.opb.org/

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What is your first goal for the new year?

Well, it would be great to shed some pounds from 2020 lockdowns and Christmas, I said to myself.

What is your goal?

If your goal is the same as mine, I invite you to join me!

We animal presenters are excellent when dealing with people, we also are very keen and aware of how to look smart healthy and sharp, but if we are not happy on the inside, it’s very difficult to make our smile fully shine.

2020 has been the year of survival, human evolution and adaptability. With all the struggles we have had, I also realised the importance of having a good balance of life in all aspects.

However, for reasons that we already know, most of us are not able to do many of our tasks and plans. I have made up my mind already and decided to start with things I can do something about, things that are in our hands, things I have control over, so I can have a fresh start this new year.

I started my new year goal on November the 1st, to get in shape and loose excess pounds! I knew it would be very hard on Christmas Day and Boxing day, but I gave myself those days off and went straight back on my diet and exercise on the 27th December.

With my wellness plan, I have lost 10 pounds in 3 weeks!!

Do not get me wrong, I have not been eating food I do not like; I have done it eating my favourite food. The secret is when to eat and how much.

This is just an example of the food I have being having, of course I combine different ingredients, depending on what I feel like eating.

Example of my diet:

Mid Day: Beans, Chicken, Olives, Avocado and Mix Salad
Evenings: Chocolate Oats and Mix Fruits

This is not an easy thing to do if you do not have fitness or nutrition knowledge.

For last two years my daughter has followed my plan, with a successful outcome also. if you want to know how to follow my plan, I can pass the secret onto you.

Please just let me know if you are interested to know more by just leaving your likes on the subject or send me a message.

Happy New Year!

Creds: Banana dolphin-Google

Starting them early: Pregnant dolphins sing their names to their babies in the womb

  • Dolphins teach babies a ‘signature whistle’ two weeks before birth
  • The whistles are sounds made by individual dolphins that identifies them
  • At about two months, the babies then go on to produce their own whistle
  • Humans have a similar phenomenon, in which babies develop a preference for their mother’s voice in the last trimester

Many expectant parents will chat away to their babies in the womb.

But it appears that humans are not the only species who like to communicate with their young before they are born.

New research has shown that dolphin mothers sing to their unborn calves by singing their name. 

The mothers teach their babies their ‘signature whistle’ before birth and in the two weeks after, which the animals use to identify one another.

The mothers teach their babies their ‘signature whistle’, which is our equivalent to a name, before birth and in the two weeks after

Researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi, have suggested that the mothers teach their babies the whistle as part of the imprinting process.

Signature whistles are sounds made by dolphins, used to identify different individuals.

Dolphin calves will eventually make their own individual whistle, but in the first stages of life, they use their mother’s.

Previous studies have shown that mother dolphins whistle their signature tune more in the days before birth.

However, this is the first study to look at how a mother dolphin whistles in the presence of other dolphins, before and after birth.

The researchers studied a dolphin mother at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in California, who gave birth to a dolphin baby called Mira in 2014.

They recorded 80 hours of sounds from the mother, baby, and other dolphins in the enclosure, during the two months before birth, and two months after birth.

The recordings showed that the mother dolphin began increasing her signature whistle two weeks before birth, and continued to do so for two weeks after birth, before tapering off.

Creds to: https://www.dailymail.co.uk

Extra image from google

Scientists Discover a Mouth-Breathing Dolphin

If you’ve been watching Netflix’s Stranger Things, you know being called a “mouth-breather” is an insult of the highest order. But for one dolphin, being a mouth-breather has likely meant the difference between life and death.

Dolphins don’t normally breathe through their mouths. Instead, they inhale and exhale through the blowhole on the top of their heads. But three years ago, researchers in New Zealand noticed the strangest thing—a single Hector’s dolphin willfully ignoring millions of years of evolution, and instead gasping out of its big, toothy mouth. And this story gets even weirder if you know anything about dolphin anatomy.

Unlike humans, a dolphin’s larynx, which carries air to the lungs, and esophagus, which carries food to the stomach, do not usually share an opening. In other words, dolphins don’t have to worry about something “going down the wrong pipe.” But the two systems aren’t totally separated. The dolphin’s larynx actually punches straight through its esophagus.

This arrangement could actually be a problem for dolphins when they’re trying to eat a particularly large fish, says Stephen Dawson, a marine biologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, and lead author of a paper published last week describing the mouth-breather. But this quirk of physiology also enables this dolphin’s particular workaround.

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In their normal physiology, shown above, air flows between a dolphin’s lungs and its blowhole. In the mouth-breathing dolphin, the scientists suspect that the larynx disconnects from its normal pathway at the epiglottic spout, and instead creates an opening to the mouth. Adapted from an illustration by Stephen Dawson

In dolphins, the larynx is not a solid tube connecting the blowhole to the lungs. Instead, a dolphin’s airway is made of multiple interlocking sections of cartilage. At the end of one of these sections is the epiglottic spout, which sits where the larynx passes through the esophagus. Normally, the epiglottic spout is held in place by a strong muscle. But in this mouth-breathing Hector’s dolphin, the scientists suspect that every time it breathes, it withdraws this spout so that the lungs connect to the mouth, rather than the blowhole.

Dawson and his coauthors can’t say for sure why the dolphin does this, but they have a few ideas. The most likely scenario seems to be some sort of quirk of the muscles that control the blowhole, since it remains shut tight even when the dolphin surfaces. This could be an injury, abscess, tumor, or other obstruction that prevents the blowhole from opening properly. It’s also possible the muscles where the esophagus closes around the larynx have become injured or infected, or that a foreign object has found its way elsewhere into the respiratory system.

Whatever the cause, the same dolphin has been spotted performing this behavior for three years, apparently without ill effects.

Dawson says he’s long-suspected dolphins have some way of moving their larynx to create more room. “But the published literature states, and the prevailing view among marine mammalogists was, that this was impossible,” he says.

That is, until ole Mouth-breathy McMouthface showed up.

“The behavior is a bit surprising since it has not been observed or reported previously,” says Ted Cranford, a marine biologist at the San Diego State University who was not involved in the new research.

Cranford studies evolution in dolphins, particularly as it relates to biosonar, and he said that, anatomically speaking, it checks out.

“It is clear that there is nothing that prevents these animals from using this new pathway,” said Cranford. “We should all keep in mind that behavioral plasticity probably has more scope for variation than we might expect.”

In other words, there’s no telling what an animal might be capable of when survival’s on the line. Mouth-breathing in a dolphin—why not?

creds to: https://www.hakaimagazine.com

A Once-Captive Dolphin Has Introduced Her Friends to a Silly Trend

“What we had here was an example of dolphin culture being established.”

In 1995, a bottlenose dolphin named Billie leaped from the water of Port River, Australia, and began “tail-walking” in circles around Mike Bossley’s boat. Her tail was pumping vigorously, her snout was pointed to the sky, and her body was in the air and moving backward. “It was spectacular,” recalls Bossley, a naturalist and conservationist. “But I didn’t appreciate the significance of it until she started doing it again and again.”


Up until that point, a wild bottlenose dolphin had never been seen tail-walking, and for good reason: It’s a trick that’s taught to dolphins in captivity. Bossley soon realized that Billie had not only learned the trick during a brief stint in dolphin rehab, but that she had then passed it on to her wild peers. “What we had here was an example of dolphin culture being established,” he says. “I got very excited and focused on documenting it.”

Billie had first come to national attention years earlier. In 1987, a racehorse trainer regularly took his horses for a swim in Port River, towing them behind his small boat. The trainer noticed that every morning, a young dolphin would swim alongside them. He named the dolphin Billy—a spelling that would later need to be tweaked when Bossley realized that she was actually female.

That December, Billie followed a regatta of sailing ships out of Port River and ended up trapped in a particularly polluted harbor. A nearby dolphinarium called Marineland rescued her and kept her at its facility for three weeks. There, she lived alongside five captive dolphins that had been trained to tail-walk in public shows. Billie never received any training, but she didn’t need it. She learned to tail-walk just by watching them.

That became clear after she was released back to Port River. She tail-walked around Bossley’s boat. She tail-walked in the bow of ships—the only dolphin ever known to do so. Then, in 2007, Bossley and his team of volunteer observers saw another female, called Wave, perform the trick. Her proficiency grew as Billie’s health started to falter. And after Billie died of kidney failure in 2009, “Wave’s tail-walking exploded, and she started doing it all the time,” says Luke Rendell from the University of St. Andrews. “The sheer number of times she did it was probably the influence that got other dolphins to do it, too.”

Indeed, Wave’s daughter Ripple also picked it up, as did four other adult females in the group, and four other juveniles. Some still do it, but the fad is fading; it peaked in 2011, and has declined since then.

No one really knows why Billie learned to tail-walk from the captive dolphins, or why her wild peers learned it from her. Many animals have been seen imitating one another’s actions, but most of these examples of wild culture involve techniques for getting food or attracting mates. Tail-walking seems to carry no benefit. There are only a few examples of such apparently arbitrary traditions, including orcas that started carrying dead salmon for a few weeks, macaque monkeys that began playing with stones, and capuchin monkeys that poke one another in the eye as a greeting.

Bossley says that tail-walking is unlikely to be a straightforwardly playful behavior: When one of her calves died, Wave could be seen tail-walking beside its body. It’s probably not just a call for attention either, since the dolphins do it when alone.

“We know that dolphins are social learners,” says Diana Reiss, a dolphin expert at Hunter College. “There have been past reports of captive cetaceans imitating the behavior and vocalizations of other dolphins, and even other species, with which they are housed. In doing so, perhaps they’re trying to fit in or bond with the others.”

Rendell agrees with that idea, and notes that humans do something similar. “Human children copy irrelevant actions as part of belonging,” he says. “It’s the Salesman 101 technique: Just copy the person you want to sell to and they feel warmed toward you.”

But why is it that only adult females learned to tail-walk, and adult males never did? “I have absolutely no idea,” Rendell says. “The only males seen to do it were calves swimming with their mothers. I can only speculate that copying someone is such a strong social signal for a male bottlenose to give that they’ll only do it in very strong circumstances.”

How to keep your animal engaged during training sessions

Stage 2 IMAGE – Step by step behaviour training-SOMERSAULT

Focus on your training session

Environments affect behaviour, predict your animal’s behaviour, keep your eyes scanning around while working with you and be aware that another animals’ behaviour affects your animal behaviour. If there is anybody or an even an object around, that your animal is not comfortable with, try to take them to another area or environment where they are more relaxed. As with children, once your animal has realized that you are always protecting them, then they will trust you.

Communication skills are paramount; during your sessions, your animal’s behaviour depends on the quality of the communication you have with your animal and with other trainers and how aware you are of your surroundings. Anticipation and planning ahead is very important when handling your animal. Dolphins love doing different things, they are very cheeky, they also get bored quickly with the same thing over and over, but when they are learning something new, they are usually concentrated, curious and excited for what may come next. Some behaviours take time and concentration. Take as an example, husbandry behaviours (medical behaviours) these are examples where a high level of concentration from your animal will be required and they also need to be very relaxed.

Before you start training any behaviour, you must communicate with other trainers and let them know how long you are going to take and where the training is going to take place. State the starting time and ending time, before you end, you need to make eye contact with other trainers and let the animals go at the same time, so your animal does not go and interrupt any other trainer’s session. This is the best way of getting the best discipline, instilling good habits in your animals that results in a good quality training session and a positive outcome for all.

Enjoy your quality time with your animal!!

Discover why the “theory” and not “hands-on” training is the first step to becoming a successful dolphin trainer

Jermaine Harris
Experienced Trainer

In most Dolphinariums, when you first start working, you do not handle an animal until you have acquired certain training techniques in theory. To touch an animal, before you have acquired this knowledge, could be counter-productive to your development as a trainer. When stating a job as a trainer, companies should give you the time, to catch up with theoretical knowledge, which is 70% of marine mammal training.

For many years I have being training dolphin trainers, in fact I trained my first student in year 1993. In 2001 I was in Dolphinarium management and one of my responsibilities was to create an educational department. I hired assistant trainers, assessed a swimming test and created material to help beginners become trainers. One of the most important tasks is to constantly improve the trainer’s knowledge.

I thought that it would be a great idea to create a system for beginners and staff new to training, which would be more effective and efficient. As I explained before, animals should not be involved at this first stage and my system helps prepare staff physically, mentally and theoretically before they get to handle the animals. It is important to take this opportunity, without the animal present, so the trainee can firstly learn plenty of technical work that is not so easy to learn, whilst having the animal in front of them. Often in Dolphinariums many trainers never learn the most important technicalities or do not get full training at all, because they are not given this opportunity at the start and other factors such as the insecurity of their teachers.

Learning to distinguish what is relevant when observing an animal’s behaviour and its environment, is paramount and this needs to be learnt before touching a dolphin. Giving an animal to a student, in most cases, confuses the animal in many ways.  This can also deteriorate behaviours and in time, these can become difficult to correct and may require the behaviour to be taken back at criteria again. Whilst training a trainer, you will repeat your explanation of a technique over and over, until the assistant understands the right technique to use. This then confuses the dolphin. After an animal has been used for trainee training purposes, an experienced trainer must then work with that animal to make sure they are not confused.  Thanks to the experience, patience, love and care of professional behaviourists, every behaviour can go back to normal, but it does take time and a great amount of effort and required knowledge.

Usually when a new assistant is learning to work with an animal, they cannot get to see the chosen behaviour they are working on, because the animal does it too fast or because of the position of the behaviour. Most often though, it is because of a lack of attention to detail from the new trainee and who does not understand what the expected criteria or goal is.

In a hands-on training session, whilst I was teaching an assistant, I realised the need for a more accurate system when teaching assistants. I saw the need for a system where the trainee has an idea of what is expected before touching the animal. With this new system, we protect the animal by not using them repeatedly or confusing them. By the time we reach hands on sessions, the student can observe what went wrong and see the animals unwanted behaviour, without running out of time. Trainers will then have a reaction time, anticipating the behaviour that they would not have time do spot if they did not learn about it in theory before getting to the hands-on training.

For all the benefits I have explained above, I have created my “Step by step Behaviour Training Program”

After studying this new program, students will be fully prepared and aware of their role before the hands-on training begins.  They will be ahead of the game and in an advantaged position. The benefit for the trainer is clear, but don’t forget the benefit to the Dolphinarium also, in not having to spend time correcting behaviours of dolphins used repeatedly in training scenarios. A dolphin that is not confused is a happy dolphin and happy dolphins are less stressed and healthy, reducing vets bills and increasing productivity. Lastly and most importantly, the system assists in the well being generally of the dolphins which must be everyone’s primary goal.

I can also explain easier the confusing Operant Conditioning techniques with examples videos.

I believe in offering the best quality training material and provide the best opportunity for my students become successful trainers.

Here are just a few of my former students who are now enjoying a successful training career around the world.

I am immensely proud of all my former students!

Javier Labrada
Head Trainer

Karlinton Williams
Supervisor Trainer

Akim Smith
Experience Trainer